But I might switch again

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It is the everlasting quest
to find that one, to find the best.

I open the bag, the smell, the anticipation.

I savour my cup and pledge,
never again another brand or blend.
This is perfect and refined,
the one on which I depend.

But nothing remains the same,
who could possibly make such a claim.

I will keep an open mind
because… who knows what else I might find!

*Tuesday writing prompt from Go Dog Go Cafe

Journaling changed my voice

Sakura Moleskine, fountain pen case, in front of homemade cork tray/Photography AdS

I have been journaling daily now for exactly one full month. In the picture above is the journal I am currently using. It is from the Moleskine ‘Sakura’ line. I had left that brand years ago for Leuchtturm1917 as the width of their journals suits me better however, I could not resist the Sakura line.

Writing daily has changed my voice.

I am calmer.

There is a difference between saying F^&* my life, thinking it, and writing it. It is in the tone of the voice.

When you say it, it comes out with a level of anger. This anger level can even be harsher when you think it because nobody hears it. It is all in your head, right? When I write it down and then read back to myself, something interesting happens, and it happens when I directly read it back to myself or, if there is a time delay. It is the split-second or moment to regroup.

When I put down the pen and read back even the most mean words, there is a slit-second delay. In that moment, my brain has changed tones. I calmed down a smidgen, and that makes the difference in my tone. How you speak to yourself, what your heart and soul hear coming out of your mouth, how you internalize that, matters.

What I angrily say or think out loud about a situation or myself, gets internalized in that angry tone. What I write, it is first seen and at that moment, my eyes make the spit-second decision to tell my brain to adjust my tone.

I read back what I wrote about various things that have upset me in the news these past few weeks. No need to rehash that here, you can all think of a thing or two. Every time I reread it, another voice pops up and counters the angry one: this happened, yes, now how are you going to respond to it?

Writing is a phenomenal way of venting frustrations and helps to sort out all possible reactions and actions you can take. Even if you cannot change a situation, you can decide to keep following it in the news to educate yourself. You can decide which news channels or shows to block, you can decide if there is one person or group to blame, and how you can reduce your interactions with them.

In other words, writing daily for a month has strengthened the other voice inside of me and has calmed the angry one. I still vent on paper but I say less out loud, and when I think it, I try to immediately write it down. If I don’t have my journal with me, I email myself a few words with my mobile phone or I use scrap paper. I then try to write down my full thoughts in my journal that same day.

Have you experienced this too when journaling?

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts 3

Notebook cover that I made from the first Fantastic Beasts movie poster/Photography AdS

This weekend, we saw the third installment in the series Fantastic Beasts and where to find them. There were not a lot of fantastic beasts in the third movie unlike the first. More importantly, the storyline was shaky.

If you have not seen the movie, I will try to explain my points without giving away the plot. And that is the first hurdle.

Aside from the obvious ‘Grindelwald versus Dumbledore’ storyline, good versus bad and each side has its own particulars, there are a few side-lines. In general, this is not a problem but here, it is. The side-lines are needed to mask the fact that the main plotline is thin. It is like when Bilbo, in the Hobbit, says “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

The film has wonderful moments where you find elements of the Harry Potter movies and there’s a lot of humour. The prison scene is priceless. That’s all I’m saying.

But, as my friend said “Who needs a screenplay when you have CGI?” The art is wonderfully done and the acting is good but they cannot make up for that thin storyline.

The moment that told me the movie would ultimately leave me disappointed (but I am still glad I saw it) started with a knock on the door of the Hog’s Head Inn.

Aberforth Dumbledore, one of three children to Percival and Kendra Dumbledore, runs the pub ‘Hog’s Head Inn’ in Hogsmeade village. His older brother is of course, Albus Dumbledore, and his younger sister was Ariana. Her portrait, which in the last Harry Potter movie shields the only remaining entrance through which Hogwarts can be entered unseen, returns in this movie.

Albus and Aberforth are at the pub. Despite being closed, someone keeps knocking. Albus opens the door. The person at the door gives him information that he needs.

At this point in the movie, each side is building their team. Each try to get talented and loyal witches and wizards at their side. Yet, Albus does not ask the person at the door to team up with him. It stunned me as this person is not just an exceptionally skilled witch. Throughout the Harry Potter books, she has shown her loyalty, her strength, dedication to good, and her power. He sends her away.

Later in the movie, there are scenes depicting great magic but if I recall the Potter books correctly, some magic cannot be done inside Hogwarts. The Great Hall is massively reduced in size and that was always a hallmark to me.

This third movie does not seem to be a bridge like the ‘Two Towers‘ bridged the ‘Fellowship‘ to prepare for the ‘Return of the King.’ It feels like an end, unless the money that pours in does not disappoint after all.

We get final answers to many questions in this third movie. Some we had already guessed.

It isn’t a secret that Dumbledore and Grindelwald were once lovers. We know from his loyalty and the way he looked at her, that Newt will forever be in love with Tina. And there is no other woman for Kowalski than Queenie.

We know from Harry Potter that Aberforth is a bitter man and not just in his relationship with Albus. We have also seen his loyalty when he helps Harry, Ron, and Hermione. We saw his power when he joins in the Battle of Hogwarts.

That Ariana and her death weigh heavily on Aberforth’s mind is obvious from the big portrait that he has of her in his quarters. There are no other portraits. Not from his parents, not from Albus, just Ariana. In this movie, we get the details so not discussing this further.

From Fantastic Beasts 2, we know about the blood pact between Grindelwald and Dumbledore. The moment that you see the blood pendant, the visuals will take your mind to the Potter scene where Severus Snape and Narcissa Malfoy make the unbreakable vow. And then you know what comes and what cannot happen.

I do think that we will see a fourth and a fifth movie as Dumbledore still needs to win the Elderwand from Grindelwald. And, in the first movie, the Obscurus played such a huge role, it cannot end like it does in movie 3. But there is another reason.

The movie is called ‘The Secrets of Dumbledore‘ and the biggest one that I was waiting for, is untouched: the Deathly Hallows.

If you love the magical world, I do recommend this movie as it is a wonderful visual treat and to relive some Potter memories. If you are looking for a strong story with well worked out plotlines, you may be disappointed.

Monday Morning

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It feels good to do things the old-fashion way again. I don’t mean like in the 1950s but just pre-pandemic. You know, B.C. before covid.

I had a wonderful routine: starting the Monday (and thus the week) with one of my girlfriends. We’d meet somewhere in town or near campus, walk in a fast pace for at least an hour, and then go somewhere for lunch. In bad weather, we walk inside a mall.

We get 10’000 steps in easily, talking the whole time. We catch up on the weekend, reviewing the coming week, find the trouble spots, and either find a solution or acknowledge that we just have to get through this. It sets the right tone for the day and the week. After that, we usually do a grocery run and then back home.

Since a few weeks, we are back in our old routine. In our town, we have an old cinema. They play just one movie per week. On Mondays, there is a 10am sitting. It is usually quiet so it is an excellent form of entertainment that you can do covid-safe. So, if there is something playing that caught our eye, that would start the day. Movie, move, munch, and market!

Enjoy your Monday!

Ajam Katjang

Photography Alice de Sturler

One of my family’s favourites is a simple meal of fresh vegetables, basmati rice, and ajam katjang. Ajam Katjang is a simple dish of baked chicken with peanut/soy sauce. Very often, the chicken is grilled on sticks and then the sauce is added or, you can bake the chicken and let it simmer in katjang sauce.

There are many recipes for katjang sauce but if you wish to make mine, try this.

Ingredients

oil

garlic (fresh or powder)

pepper and salt

onions (finely chopped or powder)

peanut butter (creamy or chunky)

peanut pieces

brown sugar

milk

kentjoer (sand ginger)

ketjap manis (sweet soy sauce)

sambal katjang

parsley

Work order:

In a non-stick pan, use the oil to fry garlic and onions and bake the chicken. I use filet cut in cubes. Add salt & pepper to taste.

In a separate bowl, mix the peanut butter (peanut bits optional) and a little bit of milk to make the mixture smooth. You should be able to stir a spoon through the peanut butter. If it drips off the spoon, it is too thin.

Add to taste: a small amount of brown sugar, kentjour (sand ginger), and to spice it up, sambal katjang. Smooth it out with ketjap manis. Last, add parsley.

All sauces are personal and experimental to me so I taste, mix, and add.

If you want a variation, use ketjap asin (salty soy sauce) with sambal trassi (shrimp based) but then be careful adding more salt.

Sate Paste
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You can also buy sate paste. I use either of these two when I am in a hurry: Satay Peanut Sauce by Por Kwan and King of Satay Paste by King.

Salamat makan, enjoy.

Truth

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No matter what happened
I am still here.
No matter what you said or heard
I proved you wrong.

The truth is never easy to hear.
If it was, we’d speak it every day.

No matter what you do
I will still be here.
No matter what you thought or did
I will be there for you.

I will gladly accept the lifelong commitment
as long as you promise me

you will always ask me first
if something you saw, heard, or read
is the truth.

Uncomfortable Discomfort

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Going to the dentist never came natural to me. There was always a ding or a dang and the man just made me uncomfortable. Every procedure was my fault, I caused my parents trouble and of course, expenses. All this never made it easier for me to go to the dentist. But I do, it is routine maintenance and I care about my health.

My current dentist told me that I needed a crown. The last procedure was a long time ago so I had forgotten the discomfort that comes from getting local anesthetics injected in the back of your jaw. Despite the numbing of the injection site first with a q-tip, one look at the syringe and I was ready to leave.

But to be honest, the real discomfort came from being in the dentist chair for two hours, mouth wide open, and getting a dry throat. The rinses could not come often enough. I started to wonder whether anyone had thought about a rinsing machine with properly chilled rose or chablis. My jaws were getting tired and wanted to lock up for the day. Lucky for me, I didn’t bite anyone.

To add to this expected discomfort, my left leg decided that this was an excellent opportunity to fall asleep and my foot decided to get cramps just to add to the memorable experience. I longed for a chair where your legs would be elevated and your calves would get a massage.

So ultimately, I was in the chair thinking about cold drinks and massages, with both shoes off, legs pulled up, and doing my pranayama breathing. But I got the crown!